Glycation: How Sugar Affects Your Skin

Glycation: How Sugar Affects Your Skin

It's pretty obvious that bad diet will make you put on weight, but have you ever considered the effects it can have on your skin? Having great skin is a quality that everybody wants to nail. So, take a look at this guide to see where you may be going wrong.

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Keeping our skin looking healthy and young is becoming more of a concern. Unfortunately, this doesn't just happen without any work or health considerations. A buzzword that people have recently been talking about is 'Glycation'. Read on to discover more about this, and to see how you can be preventing it.

What Is Glycation?

Scientifically, the glycation definition is the 'bonding of a sugar molecule to a protein or lipid molecule without enzymatic regulation'. However, if you don't speak biochemistry either, that won't mean much to you. So, in terms you can understand, glycation is when the sugars from foods react with proteins and fats in a bad way. This produces harmful molecules that, if we have too much of, induce ageing of the skin.

Through studies, it has been found that people with more of these harmful molecules in their blood, aka people with high blood sugar, are more likely to age quicker than those who don't.

Honey Has High Glucose Levels


The Effects Of Glycation

Glycation has a negative effect on our skin as it interferes with the collagen and elastin. Collagen is what makes your skin firm, and elastin is what gives it that stretchy quality. Elastin prevents sagging, causing glycation ageing. Too much glycation in the body can also cause our skin to dull and wrinkle, as well as increase the chances of age spots and an uneven skin tone.

People with high levels of these advanced glycation end products may start to lose fat in their faces, as the fat distributes to other areas in the body. This can result in less volume in the face and give the appearance of vast ageing.

Ageing Skin
PHOTO CREDIT: Dr Barry Lycka


How To Prevent Glycation

Glycation is a natural process which will eventually occur over time. However, it is becoming much more popular to see negative ageing effects on younger people, where this process has occurred prematurely. This is down to multiple factors, and although it can't be stopped, it can be slowed down. Take a look at the below points to see what you can be doing or changing to lower your risks of early skin ageing.

Eat more fruit: Obviously eating fruits are healthy, but it's the antioxidants you gain from the fruits which we're after here. Antioxidants act as a shield to glycation, helping your skin stay young. Other foods with high antioxidant levels are vegetables, tea and dark chocolate (yay).

Fruits Contain Antioxidants
PHOTO CREDIT: Men's Fitness


Wear suncream: UV rays actually increase the production of advanced glycation end products in your skin. This means that if you sunbathe without sun cream on, your skin will age more. Take note of this if you are an avid sunbed user.

Go to the gym: Keeping on top of exercise is something you should be doing to maintain a healthy body. Exercising is especially important if you want to keep glycation at bay. When you exercise, your body strengthens by gaining and growing muscle. Muscle consumes and absorbs glucose which essentially takes the glucose away from the best of your body. This means if you have more muscle, you'll have less negative effects of glucose in the rest of your body. Due to this, it has been found that if you have too much weight for your body mass, glycation is more likely to occur.

Exercise Decreases Risks Of Glycation
PHOTO CREDIT: Huffington Post


Be wary of the foods you eat: Again, this may seem obvious. But, a bad diet will increase the rates and effects of glycation. Glucose is found in sugars, and high levels of sugar consumption can lead to glycation (as the sugars stop bonding with proteins correctly, creating these negative glycation end products). So, try to veer away from sugary products as much as you can. They will also make you put on weight - see above point.

Eating foods with a low glycemic index will prevent an excess of sugar going into your system. This,  therefore, decreases the chances of glycation skin. Glycemic index is the value that is given to different foods depending on how quickly they break down in our digestive system. If they break down quickly, they can increase your blood sugar levels, which causes an early onset of glycation. Foods with a high glycemic index include white bread, cakes, spaghetti and potatoes. Low glycemic index foods include nuts, chickpeas and beans.

Chickpeas Have A Low Glycemic Index
PHOTO CREDIT: Men's Fitness

On That Note

This is a lot of information to take in, we know. However, we feel that having a bit of knowledge can be beneficial to the health of your skin and body. For anti-glycation, follow the simple tips that we have given. We're not suggesting you go all out and cut out wonderful things like doughnuts from your diets. We do suggest you improve your lifestyle by working out a bit more or opting for nuts instead of cookies.


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